September 18, 2021

Portland Thorns FC win Women’s International Champions Cup as Morgan Weaver scores game-winning goal

Portland Thorns FC defeated Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 to clinch the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup on Saturday. Thorns forward Morgan Weaver recorded the game-winning goal, her first in the WICC tournament. 

The match-up was billed as a battle of titans, two teams representing the winning franchises in the United States and Europe. Portland welcomed the return of their international players from the Olympics during the match as U.S. women’s national team captain Becky Sauerbrunn made the start at center back for the championship match.

Both teams got off to quick starts in the first half, splitting possession of the ball and spending time in their respective halves and exchanging shots. Lyon eventually established their own offensive tempo to close out the first half, leading the shot total with 10 and Portland recording only three. 

A second-half shift kicked into gear for Portland as they welcomed more of their international players from the Olympics when USWNT players Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn subbed on, the biggest ovation reserved for Canadian Olympic gold medalist and Thorns captain Christine Sinclair.

Their additions to the match provided more space for Thorns forward Sophia Smith to operate on the wing, and the second-year player had four shots, with three on target, and one chance created during the evening. 

“I feel like you know my work ethic was there,” Smith said in post game comments.

“You know a lot of calls didn’t go the way I wanted but that’s just the game. I’m proud of my team and the work that we put in tonight.”

Coach Mark Parsons made one final, crucial substitution as Weaver, the second-year forward, came on for veteran Angela Salem. Weaver’s game winner came just minutes later with a far post shot that trickled into the net.

Weaver is no stranger to big moments with the Thorns as she converted the winning penalty in the 2021 Challenge Cup final. The forward has been rehabbing from a lingering injury and credited the staff and hear teammates for motivating her.

“I told Tom, our strength coach, I said, ‘when I go in I’m gonna score,’ ” Weaver said in postgame comments. 

“So, it happened, which is nice and I’m really thankful. Just for everyone here that helped me through injury. The Olympians that are back, and worked so hard and and so often. It goes from player one, to let’s say 30. I mean you couldn’t even tell if 30 was on the field that’s how great we are.”

The trophy is the second title for Portland Thorns this year after winning the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup against NJ/NY Gotham FC. The team is currently in first place on the league table with 29 points, with two points separating them from second-place North Carolina Courage. 

The club has 10 games remaining to pursue the league shield, and a spot within the top six would guarantee a place in the playoffs for a shot at the 2021 NWSL championship. The Thorns resume their 2021 NWSL regular season on Aug. 25 against NJ/NY Gotham FC.

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